The road cycling routes in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands are great. Experienced roadies and gravel enthusiasts alike will get a kick out of this area’s steep climbs, low traffic and beautiful scenery.
The town of Ohiopyle sits in the bottom of the Youghiogheny River valley, so you’ll be going uphill from the start. Hop on the Great Allegheny Passage for a quick out-and-back spin to warm up before your ride.
But wear bright clothing and use your lights — local roads have narrow shoulders and tourist traffic isn’t accustomed to bikers on the roads.
Check out these local routes to get you started on a ride from Ohiopyle.
Here’s an awesome climb! Climbing up Kenctuck Road will seriously challenge your heart and legs. Head south out of town on Rt. 381, cross the Meadow Run bridge and turn right on Kentuck Road. You’ll cross over Cucumber Run, and then the hurt begins. The climb is short but steep. In 0.75 miles, you’ll gain about 600 feet. Here’s a nice loop once you make it up the hill: continue south on the Chalkhill-Ohiopyle road for 5 miles, turn left on Nelson road, then bear left on Gallagher Woods Road and take another left to ride downhill to Ohiopyle on Route 381.
A local favorite is a ride over Sugarloaf Mountain to Confluence and back. You start with a lung-busting, five-mile climb on Sugarloaf Road out of Ohiopyle that gains about 1700 feet. Plan for 35 to 50 minutes to reach the top. Bomb down the mountain (looking out for pot-holes) to where Sugarloaf Road meets Route 281. Turn left on 281 and ride toward Confluence, where you can stop at the Lucky Dog Cafe and have a mid-ride margarita! Then follow the Great Allegheny Passage back to Ohiopyle, an easy 11-mile spin on the rail trail.
We borrowed this excellent gravel route from a local bike race – The Quick & the Dead Mt. Davis Gravel Grinder. This route takes you from Confluence, up and over the highest point in the state of Pennsylvania, Mt. Davis. The course posted here is the “short” route, a 46.4 gravel endurance adventure with over 4000 feet of climbing and descending. It’s on gravel back roads, with great views of windmills, rivers and even a red covered bridge. Enjoy the ride and make sure you bring a flat kit! Those roads can be rough!